Alessandro Algardi - inv. 410

Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654)

Bust of Bishop Ulpiano Volpi
17th century, first half
57,5 x 60,5 x 35 cm
1891-1892 acquisition 
Inv. 410

Ulpiano Volpi was a prominent figure in the upper reaches of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the early seventeenth century. Born in Como, archbishop of Chieti and bishop of Novara, he actually spent most of his life in Rome at the papal curia, where he held important offices. The portrait was almost certainly based on a death mask, i.e. a plaster cast taken from the face of the dead man. This is suggested by the prominent, bony structure of the head, the skin drawn taut over the cheekbones and the long line of the mouth. The author of this energetic portrait was Alessandro Algardi, a Bolognese who was one of the leading sculptors in the heyday of Baroque in Rome. The bust of Bishop Ulpiano Volpi, a work from Algardi’s full artistic maturity, can be dated to the 1640s. It marks a phase when the Bolognese sculptor worked in an idiom unusually close to that of Bernini, and was long attributed to Bernini himself.